Women drink as much as alcohol as men according to a new global study, published in online journal BMJ Open.

Researchers pooled data from 68 relevant international studies, published between 1980 and 2014. The total sample size in the combined research totalled more than 4 million and represented people born as far back as 1891.

The data showed that the gap between alcohol use in men and women consistently narrowed across three categories of use: problematic use, associated harms, and general use.

The reducing gender gap was driven by greater use of alcohol among women, and especially younger women.

The report highlights how alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms.

There seems to be a stigma associated with women who drink and need help, as alcohol consumption is viewed as a male phenomenon,” Researcher Katherine M. Keyes, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, told CNN. 

The study did not analyse in depth the reasons why the gap in alcohol consumption between men and women is reducing, but did point out that the changing nature of gender roles could be a contributor.

The majority of the studies from which data was collated, were located in the Western world, and the researchers said that more studies like these were needed globally.

Indeed, more studies like these are needed in India. According to a 2014 World Health Organisation Report, 3.3 million deaths a year can be attributed to alcoholism. Though it is good that the stigma against women drinking is reducing, alcohol abuse is an important concern which should be addressed for both men and women.

Also Read: Women in Bijnor stand up against alcoholism